The watchdog for protecting Post Officer customers has promised to intervene in the plan to move the Eastriggs Post Office after a meeting with Joan McAlpine MSP.
Eilidh MacDonald, senior policy researcher with Citizens Advice who scrutinise the impact of planned post office transfers, met Ms McAlpine last week in the Scottish Parliament to discuss the Eastriggs residents’ concerns.
Afterwards Ms Macdonald wrote to the SNP MSP:
“In the case of Eastriggs, following speaking with you, I can tell you that the formal review meeting with POL has been pushed to next week. We are minded to make very strong representations about this proposal on the basis of the concerns you voiced on behalf of your constituents.
“I will be in touch to give you more detail on that – I envisage we will focus on accessibility to the new location, and to Annan; privacy concerns; ensuring the ramp is safe and clear; automatic doors; and business banking. We will also talk about the loss of the social value – but as I said, this is not an area where we have much room at present.
“The loss of the social function of this branch is clearly enormous. As we discussed, sometimes transformation improves a service and sometimes – as in this case – it may reduce it. It sounds like this is a very special branch and were the social value to be quantified, the bottom line may look very different.”
Ms McAlpine said she was delighted with the consumer watchdog’s response – whilst being mindful that they have an advisory role only and cannot veto proposed transfers. Ms McAlpine said:
“The watchdog had been alerted to the Eastriggs situation after I wrote about it in my Daily Record column. They would have gone to constituents as well but the consultation deadline did not allow time for that.
“However I passed on all the concerns raised by villagers and business users and I am delighted that Ms Macdonald really understands the seriousness of their situation. While she does not have power of veto she has promised to put up a very strong case.
“It is heartening to discover that the community in Eastriggs, who are wholly opposed to this move, now have the backing and support of an organisation with statutory responsibility.
“In particular they will detail the impact on accessibility, privacy and the proposed loss of services, and they will also outline the loss of social function of the branch which they agreed was enormous.
“While Citizen’s Advice cannot directly veto the planned relocation this response offers a little flicker of hope – if the Post Office won’t listen to villagers then surely they will listen to this respected and independent organisation?”